Plug and drive: North Bend prepares for electric-car surge

Getting ready for a possible surge of electric vehicles on state highways, the North Bend City Council weighs in this month on local green-car standards.

The council will vote July 19 on an ordinance that would match state standards for electric-car infrastructure development. The law defines terms and updates zoning for charging stations and battery exchange facilities.

“It doesn’t require that the city do anything, it just requires that we allow electric vehicle charging infrastructure within the city,” said City Planner Mike McCarty.

A 2009 state law requires all cities along interstate highways to have this ordinance in place by July 1. The Planning Commission recommended the change after a June 9 public hearing, and the council planned to vote on it June 21, but delayed the vote until several formatting problems were resolved.

The intent of the state law is to standardize EV charging stations, similar to the way that all gas stations have become standardized.

North Bend has already taken small steps toward establishing EV infrastructure. “When we constructed our park and ride, we rewired it to allow for EV charging in the future,” McCarty said.

So far, the city has no plans to create a charging station itself, but McCarty said one organization has contacted the city about developing some of the necessary infrastructure for the expected increase in electric cars in the near future.

“Every car maker is now either selling, or developing and preparing to sell in the future an electric car, not a hybrid,” McCarty said.

Washington currently has more than 90 EV charging stations, most of which are public. The nearby cities of Issaquah and Duvall each have one station.

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